September 14, 2006

The World Turned Upside Down

Hatched by Dafydd

It's impossible not to note the hysteria sweeping through Congress, culminating with the literally insane vote in the Senate Armed Services Committee to allow terrorists on trial -- and their al-Qaeda lawyers -- to see all the classified evidence against them, including (one presumes) information that would identify spies we have placed in that group, allowing for quick and easy executions of deep-cover agents, as well as blowing other surveillance programs to allow al-Qaeda to evade detection in their future plans.

I reckon if the "secrecy obsessed" Bush administration is unwilling to reveal to the world every last classified jot and tittle of intelligence information, human assets, and programs that we have... well, they can always just drop the charges against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other terrorists in Guantanamo and elsewhere and turn them loose. It's not like the pro-terrorist Left isn't giving President Bush plently of options!

I think the Warner bill would also require that every, last soldier involved in capturing terrorists on the battlefield be brought back to the United States to testify for each and every trial; I'm not sure whether terrorists will be released if it turns out the Marines and soldiers in the field didn't read them their Miranda rights before grabbing them, but I'm 100% certain that Sens. John Warner (R-VA, 88%), John McCain (R-AZ, 80%), Lindsay Graham (R-SC, 96%), and Susan Collins (R-ME, 32%) would demand that if they thought they could get away with it.

I think from now on I'll just call them the Lynne Stewart Quartet.

Four of the panel’s 13 Republicans joined all 11 Democrats in rejecting Mr. Bush’s proposal to keep defendants from seeing classified evidence against them. The vote came a day after the House Armed Services Committee adopted a measure that more closely parallels what the president wants....

As part of his plan, the president wants Congress to enact legislation that would authorize tougher interrogations of suspected terrorists.

And that is what Congress must not do, said Colin L. Powell, the former secretary of state. “The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism,” Mr. Powell said in a letter to Senator John McCain of Arizona, one of the Republicans who differ with Mr. Bush’s policies.

Powell has at last demonstrated, for all the world to see, his unfitness for his previous office, which many of us realized as long ago as 2002. He exemplifies what Rep. John Boehner said yesterday:

"I wonder if they are more interested in protecting the terrorists than protecting the American people," said House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio. "They certainly do not want to take the terrorists on and defeat them."

Boehner was speaking of the Democrats; but Colin Powell may as well be a Democrat -- he is a Republican the same way Lincoln Chafee (R/D-RI, 12%) is.

Fortunately, the House Armed Services Committee had more huevos, overwhelmingly adopting President Bush's bill with some minor modifications, according to the Washington Post:

With prodding from Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10 to 8 along party lines to approve a bill negotiated with the White House to allow -- but not require -- Bush to submit the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping program to a secret court for constitutional review.

That bill, which could come before the Senate next week, is considered by many to be a ratification of the administration's current surveillance program, which monitors the overseas phone calls and e-mails of some Americans when one party is suspected of links to terrorism....

"The committee took the important step of acknowledging the president's constitutional authority to conduct foreign intelligence surveillance," said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), an ardent Bush ally.

At the same time, the House Armed Services Committee voted 52 to 8 to ratify the White House's version of legislation creating military commissions for trying terrorism suspects. The measure would give Bush the authority he seeks to withhold classified evidence from defendants, admit testimony that defendants might maintain was coerced, and protect U.S. intelligence agents from legal action over their interrogation methods. House Republican leaders plan to bring the tribunal bill to a vote next week.

By the arcane rules of the Senate, Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN, 92%) can dump the Senate Armed Services Committee's stupid bill and bring a different bill to the floor of the Senate... in this case, the bill he supports -- which is the president's bill, the same one that just breezed through the House Armed Services Committee. We'll see if the Lynne Stewart Quartet is actually willing to join Democrats in filibustering the very congressional legislation that they (and the Democrats) say is urgently needed to put the White House back on the legal track.

It's one thing to vote against the wishes of the American people in committee, where few will ever see or find out. It's quite another to do so in a full Senate vote, especially when one has presidential ambitions -- as McCain surely does. In fact, here is a fascinating bit of behind-the-scenes information from the Times:

In recent months, Mr. Powell has been advising Mr. McCain in connection with the senator’s possible presidential candidacy in 2008, according to McCain aides.

Well well; small world.

Speaking of Powell, I know some of you doubted me when I pointed out that the reason cited by many of those demanding that al-Qaeda detainees get treated like criminal defendants at trial in civilian courts is that if we don't, then our terrorist enemies might start treating American captives harshly. Well, take a look at this:

Mr. Powell, a former four-star Army general who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and had a leadership role in the Persian Gulf war of 1991, said in his letter to Mr. McCain that redefining Common Article 3 would only deepen worldwide doubts about America’s moral stature.

“Furthermore, it would put our own troops at risk,” Mr. Powell said in his letter to Mr. McCain. Critics of the Bush administration approach have argued that, if the United States is seen to be mistreating captives, Americans who are taken prisoner could be subjected to cruelty.

Let's all ponder that worry, straight from the mouth of former (thank God) four-star general, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of State Colin Powell: we must accord al-Qaeda captives full Article 3 status -- including no coercive interrogations whatsoever... as those would, according to the Lynne Stewart Quartet, be considered either "cruel treatment," "outrages upon personal dignity," or "humiliating and degrading treatment," which precisely what Article 3 of the Third Geneva Conventions bans. Because if we don't treat them with kid gloves, then they might be "cruel" to captured American soldiers. Great Scott.

The corollary, which Powell, McCain, Warner, Graham, and Collins, not to mention all of the Democrats, must believe is that if we do treat al-Qaeda detainees gently and without interrogations, then they will do the same to captured Americans. Good grief!

This is the world turned upside down... and I'm sad to say, considering the people involved, that I believe it's caused by nothing more noble than base cowardice: they're frightened, and they hope that if they just appease the monster, it will go away and eat somebody else first.

(Just as I was about to post this, Hugh Hewitt's show began -- and he mentioned the Senate Armed Services Committee action and said "everything is upside down." Two great minds with but a single thought between them.)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 14, 2006, at the time of 3:12 PM

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» The Cowards In The Senate from Flopping Aces
The Senate passed legislation today that would allow terrorists captured in the field to be given access to classified evidence against them. This would include the names of those undercover agents that identified them. Yes, you heard me right. U... [Read More]

Tracked on September 14, 2006 4:44 PM

» Mr. Graham Regrets He's Unable to Lunch Today from Big Lizards
Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC, 96%), one fourth of the Lynne Stewart Quartet, was just on Hugh Hewitt's show, frantically trying to spin away his vote on the Senate Armed Services Committee (see below). From what I could gather, what he... [Read More]

Tracked on September 14, 2006 4:49 PM


The following hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman

Shoot despite the fact that they are under the Hague Conventions Illegal Combatants and have no "protected" status.

Recognize them as Combatants, give them POW status and they can be repatriated when?

Hostilities are over and a Peace Treaty or a Cease Fire is signed,

Or when H#$L freezes over, which ever comes first
No trials needed.

The above hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 14, 2006 3:33 PM

The following hissed in response by: Terrye

Warner says they are concerned that the bill will not stand up to a Supreme Court ruling if these rights are not included.

Bush says he will not accept any bill that allows for any ambiguity in regards to the status of these people and how the CIA can question them.

My understanding is that Bush can keep these people locked up until the end of hostilities. That could be quite some time.

Bush can veto any bill he does not like and there is no way they can over ride the veto and the Senate can vote for a filibuster, but I wonder if they would really do that.

Hopefully some compromise can be reached that will avoid either of these extremes. But so far Bush is not showing any signs of blinking.

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 14, 2006 4:49 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Warner says they are concerned that the bill will not stand up to a Supreme Court ruling if these rights are not included.

Lindsay Graham said the same thing on Hugh Hewitt's show. It was his third essay to justify his vote on committee. (* See below.)

Hamden, where the Court first ordered that Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions be applied to terrorist detainees, was decided 5-3; the abstainer, Chief Justice John Roberts, would surely have made a fourth dissenter, since it was his own ruling the majority was overturning (hence his abstention).

The big surpise was Justice Kennedy, who joined the four liberals (Ginsburg, Breyer, Stevens, and Souter), but only in part. As Hugh noted (directly to Sen. Graham), Kennedy flatly said in his concurring opinion that he only wants Congress to act, and he will be satisfied; his discomfort was with the Executive coming up with the tribunal rules all by itself without input from the Legislature.

I think Hugh is right: if Congress were to pass the Bush bill, rather than the bill by the Lynne Stewart Quartet, Justice Kennedy would be just fine with it, and it would pass constitutional muster by at least 5-4, perhaps 6-3 if the mercurial Justice John Paul Stevens voted with the majority.

So the Graham-Warner apologetic is a canard.


* The first two defenses by Lindsay Graham on Hugh's show were:

  1. If we don't grant the most expansive reading of Common Article 3 to terrorist detainees, then if the terrorists capture an American, they might treat him cruelly.
  2. When Hugh pointed out how nonsensical that was, Graham suggested that we have to consider future wars we might fight with civilized democracies that actually followed the Geneva Conventions. What will they think?

Of course, if our future enemy follows Geneva, and we follow Geneva when we fight them, then what's the problem?

Our refusal to grant full POW status to terrorist detainees doesn't come from a deep-seated hostility to Moslems or to "brown people;" it comes from their refusal to act in accordance with the Geneva Conventions themselves, preferring instead to fight as unlawful combatants.

"If you fight dishonorably and illegally," we say, "don't expect the same legal rights as those who fight honorably."


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 14, 2006 5:50 PM

The following hissed in response by: bpilch

this was the last straw for me with McCain. I have been supporting him with all my conservative friends under the aegis of "it was only campaign finance reform and he didn't know the consequences". In this case, however, Bush was obviously talking with him prior to announcing his desired policy. McCain could have chosen to negotiate a middle position. Instead he and the Lynne Stewart quartet are not only taking a nonsensical oppositional stance, but they are providing cover for the same stance for Democrats, and doing so at a very critical time in the critical elections. All for some amorphous goal of getting our prisoners better treatment. McCain lost any chance of the Republican nomination with this move. I don't get it, I thought he was smarter than that. I know all he cares about is himself, but at least I thought he would see this wound is self-inflicted and he had the time to consider and decide what to do. No way would I let this guy be my president in this critical time.....

The above hissed in response by: bpilch [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 14, 2006 8:46 PM

The following hissed in response by: Norman Rogers

The most risible part of Powell's statement is his claim to speak for "the world". I guess he is channeling Gaea.

From God's mouth to Colin's ear? What a buffoon!

The above hissed in response by: Norman Rogers [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 15, 2006 7:34 AM

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